Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough: Cookbook – Ella Leche – Andrews McMeel Publishing – Published 5 January 2016
Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough is a practical, real-life approach to reducing sugar the healthy way so you don’t feel deprived. This is not a sugar-detox book but an inspiring cookbook and guide to change your relationship with the foods you love and address your cravings properly. There are over 100 delicious and easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and yes, even dessert!
Ella Leché, the voice behind the popular food blog Pure Ella, used to consider herself a healthful eater. She ate salads; she drank water. But like so many of us, she also looked forward to her daily sweet treats. It wasn’t until her health fell apart due to a rare illness that she began to make the food-health connection.
A bright and summery cookbook, Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough offers beautiful pictures and diverse recipes. Cut the Sugar does not set out to promote removing sugar completely from your life. Instead it helps readers find sugar alternatives, creating sweet food that is nutritious and replacing the bad sugary things with healthy and enjoyable sweets.
I have watched the quit-sugar craze arrive and seen how colleagues and friends have cut sugar completely from their diets. Many have stuck with it, others succumb to cravings, while others simply can’t manage the restrictions a sugar-free diet imposes. I, on the hand, have continued to eat my regular, balanced, mainly healthy but defiantly not sugar-free diet. I haven’t read the quit sugar books that sit on our library shelf nor have I watched any sugar-is-killing-us documentaries. I would rather enjoy my sweets in naive bliss. But when I heard about this book, a book about reducing sugar but still enjoying the sweet side of life, I was very intrigued. I was not disappointed. While Ella Leche’s level of diet restriction is well out of my range of dedication, it does offer some practical tips for reducing bad sugar intake and replacing it with healthy and nutritious sugar intake.
Cut the Sugar begins with a message from Ella describing her journey with illness, food and health. An introduction to a variety of healthy basic ingredients, such as superfood, grains and seeds, healthy fats, protein sources, gluten-free flours, and sugar alternatives follows.
All the recipes are plant based and gluten free. There are also some that are also egg and dairy free. There is some sugar in these recipes, particularly the desserts and some snacks. But that’s the point! You can eat some sugar, just from different sources and in smaller quantities. The sugar sources range from coconut palm sugar and stevia, to Medjool dates and rice malt syrup.
While some recipes are straight out of the I’m so healthy, you can only buy these ingredients in extremist health shops, others are simple and pure genius. A cookie made solely from mashed banana and oats!!
The recipes are organised by section. Firstly, there are breakfast recipes, such as the caramelised onion, leek and potato chickpea frittata that is egg free. A great range of salads follows, which have plenty of nuts, seeds and beans. Soups are next, and range from the refreshing to the surprising, such as the brussels sprout, pea and fresh dill soup or the hearty miso soup. The mains section provides hearty meals that are wheat, diary and meat free, like the zucchini noodles with spinach pesto or the chickpea flatbread pizza. This leads onto the dessert section, where there is everything from the simple mixed berry crumble pots, to raw brownies with chocolate ganache. I was intrigued by the cinnamon and rooibos cake, which uses spelt flour, brewed rooibos tea and applesauce. The snack section follows including protein bars, turnip the beet chips, multiseed bread, and flax crackers. And finally there is a drink section with a variety of smoothies.
A lot of the recipes in this book seem less like a reduced-sugar cookbook and more like one that is for people with allergies or intolerances. Take the diary-free cashew cheese ball for example. But anyone will enjoy these fresh meals, even if they want to add a side of chicken, beef or wheat pasta.
Most of the fat content in the baking recipes is sourced from coconut oil. If you’re not a convert of this trend you can always switch the quantities to another oil. Also, milk alternatives such as almond or hemp milk could be switched to whatever type of milk you drink. I think I’ll also be skipping the hemp, milk or seeds, as it is illegal to eat in Australia. I would have liked a little more detail in the alternative ingredients section, such as disadvantages to some of these ingredients, their origins or why it is best to use them rather than other alternatives. For example, coconut oil is cited as the fat of choice, but despite the claimed benefits there is no mention of it being high in saturated fats. There is also an extensive index, which is grouped by ingredients as well as finished product.
Overall, this is a very beautiful book. It would make a great gift and the perfect accompaniment to any kitchen library.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Themes: Food, sugar, cooking.
Published: 5 January 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Format: Paperback, 240 pages.